Steven at PoliBlog takes issue with Kevin’s assertion that President Bush is a take-no-prisoners political animal. Kevin responds thusly in the comments section:

Certainly all presidents seek to undermine their opponents, but my sense of Bush has been that he has a take-no-prisoners style that I find repellant. For the most part, of course, this is a personal reaction, and is unlikely to be shared by his supporters.

Reading Kevin’s comments reminds me that many Democrats view Bush in almost the same way most Republicans viewed Bill Clinton. While I’ve always been able to intellectually grasp that Clinton was highly intelligent, generally disciplined politically, and had oratorical gifts, he just made my skin crawl. And this was true pre-Lewinsky; indeed, this reaction was there during the 1992 campaign. This is not a reaction I get to Democrats reflexively, including those far more ideologically different from me than Clinton. For reasons I don’t fully understand, many Democrats simply react to Bush in a very visceral manner. Certainly, the election controversy partly explains this, but the business about his stupidity and his “sneer” predated that.

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sofla says:

    Of course, many Democrats have the reaction to Bush you say. But an analysis of Bush’s political tactics doesn’t require a pro or con attitude towards him, but a look at his record. Consistently, he refuses to compromise his initial bid, relies on party line votes in the House, and then tries to pick off a stray Dem senator or two.

    This tactic is the opposite of what he said he would do, that he would reach across the aisle, knows how to work with Democrats, and would have moderate mainstream plans that would enjoy bipartisan support. Instead he took hardline right positions, as often as not, and didn’t compromise a whit unless absolutely forced to. A reaction to his autocratic, high-handed tactics lost him a GOP majority Senate for a time.

    There’s not much question but that the Bush/Rove political preference is to steamroll all opposition when they can, and Kevin is correct on that point, and not simply biased into believing it.

  2. James Joyner says:

    I didn’t mean to imply that Kevin’s analysis of Bush was purely emotional; I just note that there is clearly a visceral, personal reaction to Bush out there.

    I don’t deny that Bush has been rather combative on some issues although, frankly, he has irritated his base by being very rubbery on any issue that he wasn’t totally committed to. For the most part, Bush just wants to get things done and is only driven by ideology on a very, very narrow set of issues.

    I think Bush misoverestimated the degree to which the cooperation of the very conservative Democrats in Texas could be achieved in Washington.